This morning I read Psalm 119, and I was once again struck by the way in which God’s Word had become precious to the Psalmist and convicted by my own lack of desire for the Scriptures at times. It can be easy for us, living with such liberty that few in the history of mankind have known, to take for granted the precious treasure that too often collects dust upon our bookshelf, and so I thought it might be beneficial for each of us to meditate on the unique gift we have been given with such generosity by our Almighty Creator, Father, and Friend.
Psalm 119:1-8 is the first stanza of this 22-stanza alliterated poem. In v.1-3, the Psalmist makes some observations about the man who delights in knowing God through his Word. This man’s reputation is impeccable as he lives every aspect of life according to God’s Word. He holds Scripture with great reverence and pursues God with all his heart. He does not hide behind his reputation, but he lives a life of consistency in every part. Truly, there is no part of life to which God’s Word does not speak, and the man who understands this and arranges his life accordingly will be thoroughly happy.
But happiness is not the only reason to apply the Bible to our lives, and in v.4-7 the Psalmist recognizes that we have all been commanded to do this. Even though we know God expects us to seek him through his Word, it is our natural, sinful tendency to become complacent and pursue our own ways. The Psalmist expresses his first-hand experience with failure when he cries out, “Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes!” in v.5, and I, for one, can relate to his anguish and frustration. We desire to worship God without shame, praising him with a heart that does not condemn us, yet our failure to love and cherish God’s Word brings exactly the opposite of what we desire. And though we know what God expects, and we know the joy that obedience brings, our sinful flesh conspires against us, leading us to disobey.
“Oh, do not forsake me utterly!” The writer of Psalm 119 brings this first stanza to a conclusion with a simple prayer for God’s mercy. Certainly our Creator bears no responsibility for our disobedience, when we disregard the truth that he has revealed in his Word. He has every opportunity and every right to turn away from us, but we can rejoice that his mercy is everlasting. He responds to prayers such as these. Let us continue striving to know him by loving and keeping his Word, turning to God for mercy when we fail and daily renewing our commitment to the precious Word of God.